Thursday, March 15, 2007


Costa Rica is drafting plans to become carbon neutral. Not that the boss said New Zealand would do it first, but it does steal her thunder a little. Other nations are neutral - but they're not the most productive contenders.

Comparing NZ and Costa Rican potential for carbon neutrality initially seems like comparing apples with underpants.

But we do have similar populations, a similar proportion of GDP from services, and we each have about a quarter of our land area protected as parks.

Significantly, New Zealand consumes about three times more oil than Costa Rica and although we're both rich in hydro power we still use fossil fuel for a quarter of our electricity generation. For Cost Rica it's 1.5%.

CO2 emissions per unit of GDP is lower in Costa Rica and per capita emissions in NZ are six times higher.

So are Helen's CO2 neutral aspirations indeed pure rhetoric? Costa Rica certainly have a more likely carbon neutrality ambition without offsetting. We're a spread-out country with fossil fuel dependency.

For me the most telling stat is oil consumption per unit of GDP. Costa Rica uses 44,000 bn barrels per day to generate GDP of $49bn. That's a ratio of 0.9 - ours is 1.4. We're more than 50% more oil thirsty than Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is famous for constitutionally abolishing its army in 1986 - probably why they're the third happiest country on the Planet. Happy punters are more likely to accept policy measures necessary to achieve carbon neutrality. Or maybe it's as simple as having a little more at stake...

No comments: